Police allege locals engaged in marijuana by mail
One is a manager for a pizza chain outlet in State College. Another is a manager for a convenience store chain in Williamsport. A third is a cook at a local restaurant.
Their routine lives of going to work and making a living came to an abrupt stop Wednesday morning when they were among those arrested for their alleged involvement in a widespread marijuana distribution ring.
Investigators said the ring received several hundred thousand dollars worth of marijuana that was mailed here from the West Coast.
State police filed felony charges against a group of local people, several of them current or former Pennsylvania College of Technology students, according to a seven-page affidavit,
The charges are a result of a statewide investigating grand jury hearing evidence of “a loose network of students and former students of Penn College, who were involved in the distribution of marijuana, dating as far back as 2003, with widespread drug activity from 2010 to 2012,” the affidavit stated.
A former student who moved out to the West Coast “began sending (large quantities of) marijuana through the mail to Williamsport-area sellers. He was charging $3,000 to $3,600 a pound, for marijuana (for which) he was paying $1,000 a pound,” investigators said.
His identity has not been released because has not yet been arrested.
Those who allegedly were part of the network and charged with the felony offense, corrupt organization, included Thomas V. Stark, 22, a cook who lives at 801 W. Third St.; Todd Alan Chilcot Jr., 25, a local pizza deliveryman, who lives at 353 Crawford Alley in Montoursville, and Matthew Ryan Kutz, 24, a convenience store manager, who also lives at 801 W. Third St.
Also charged with various drug offenses were Collin James Hawley, of State College, a 24-year-old pizza store outlet manager, who turned himself in, and Ross Weaver, who was arrested Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz.
Investigators said Weaver and Hawley moved into 1095 Broad St. in Montoursville in February 2012 after Weaver was robbed of $4,000 and 128 grams of marijuana at his Williamsport apartment. Weaver is alleged to have been selling marijuana since 2003, police said.
“Weaver was selling numerous pounds of marijuana each week when the apartment robbery occurred. He was receiving marijuana from California, sometimes mailed to him in Pillow Pets. It also was wrapped in Carpet Fresh and dryer sheets. It was sometimes stored in duffle bags,” the affidavit said.
Kutz, formerly of 439 Sholder Road, allegedly began making “arrangements directly with” his West Coast supplier in April 2012.
“Kutz wrapped the marijuana money in foil, vacuum-sealed it and mailed it in a tea kettle. Marijuana was not mailed to Kutz. Several locations were used to receive the marijuana, including a Muncy address, arranged by Niles Devinney Jr.,” the affidavit stated.
Devinney, 24, formerly of 5139 Northway Road, Cogan Station, now working for a hair salon company in Pittsburgh, also was among those arrested on a charge of corrupt organization and related offenses.
All of those arrested were brought before District Judge Gary A. Whiteman.
“I would like signature bail so I can take care of my children today,” Chilcot told the judge.
“You sent (in the mail) anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 in exchange for marijuana in a couple of years. Signature bail is not an issue,” Whiteman said. Chilcot, who faces six charges, was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Also locked up was Stark, formerly of Cranford, N.J., who faces nine drug-related charges. He was incarcerated in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Stark’s defense attorney tried to keep him out of jail.
“He has no criminal history. He is fully cooperating,” said the attorney, who termed the bail amount “excessive.” She asked for 10-percent bail for her client.
“I don’t believe in 10 percent. He is charged with being part of a corrupt organization,” Whiteman said.
Kutz, facing 12 charges, also was hoping to avoid prison, but Whiteman, in demanding $500,000 bail, argued, “You ran a substantial amount of marijuana through your hands over a period of time.”
The judge told Kutz that the affidavit made him appear as if he allegedly was one of the major players in the drug ring.
“I have to call a spade a spade.” He then added, “It looks like a duck. It walks like a duck. It’s a duck.”
Devinney, who faces six drug charges, was jailed in lieu of $250,000.
Hawley, who faced a total of nine counts ranging from possession with intent to deliver marijuana to conspiracy, also was locked up in lieu of $250,000 bail.
During several of the arraignments, Whiteman told those before him that while they were “hoping to move on with their lives,” they still had to deal with their alleged criminal acts in their past.
Others arrested on drug charges in Wednesday’s roundup were:
Conard William Carpenter III, 28, of 1553 Louisa St.; charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana and conspiracy; jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Victoria Rose Dawes, 24, of 1365 Cottage Ave., Lycoming Township; charged with delivery of a controlled substance, conspiracy and illegal use of cellphone; jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Tatiana Marie Kohler, formerly of Simpson Lane, South Williamsport, now of 801 W. Third St.; released in lieu of $5,000 bail.
Dustin Runyon, also arrested in Arizona; charged with conspiracy and drug offenses.